Juvenile offenders: a different approach needed? — Part I

In this series written for Criminal Law & Justice Weekly, Navpreet Virk and No5 member Richard Gibbs present the opposing arguments surrounding the manner in which the youth courts treat juveniles convicted of criminal offences and examine the countervailing arguments and policies. In the first of this four-part series, Nav Virk sets out the general philosophical underpinnings of the current policy approach. 

‘Trepidation’, ‘hysteria’ and ‘nostalgia’ are all powerful cultural forces and nowhere are they more evident than in the public denunciation of the behaviour of young people today. Whether it be the consequences of ‘permissiveness’, the influence of sensationalist media, a perceived insolence towards authority or a result of the apparent crisis of ‘childhood’, children and adolescents are said to pose more of a threat to the social order than at any time in the past, occupying the ‘dubiously privileged position’, as society’s number-one ‘folk devil’.  

It comes as no great surprise then that the thirst for ‘harsher’ punishment to deal with this ‘new’ malaise appears to be intensifying. For the general premise is that behaviour that society finds problematic can only be changed by coercive methods and that those who are perceived as creating difficulties for others will only change if they are constrained, controlled or compelled to do so…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the No5 Chambers briefing.

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